Trust the experts – if they say what we want

Scientific American has a short podcast on confirmation bias.  (Download the podcast) It especially relates to trusting experts in areas like climate change.

Christie Nicholson points out (see We Only Trust Experts If They Agree With Us):

We think we trust experts. But a new study finds that what really influences our opinions, more than listening to any expert, is our own beliefs.

Researchers told study subjects about a scientific expert who accepted climate change as real. Subjects who thought that commerce can be environmentally damaging were ready to accept the scientist as an expert. But those who came into the study believing that economic activity could not hurt the environment were 70 percent less likely to accept that the scientist really was an expert.

Then the researchers flipped the situation. They told different subjects that the same hypothetical scientist, with the same accreditation, was skeptical of climate change. Now those who thought that economic activity cannot harm the environment accepted the expert, and the other group was 50 percent less likely to believe in his expertise. The study was published in the Journal of Risk Research.

The investigators found similar results for various other issues, from nuclear waste disposal to gun control. Said one of the authors, “People tend to keep a biased score of what experts believe, counting a scientist as an ‘expert’ only when that scientist agrees with the position they find culturally congenial.”

So true. And I believe perfectly natural. Confirmation bias is a human trait that has to be overcome in science. Fortunately the requirement for validating ideas against reality and the social nature of scientific research helps this.

Why the beliefs?

The questions is – why do we have these beliefs? Perhaps we can understand their origins in areas like politics, religion and support for sport teams – often these beliefs are hereditary. But climate change is a different issue.

I think that a lot of the resistance to scientific knowledge on climate change come out of the nature of the problems and our psychological response to such situations. The problems seem so immense and long term it is tempting to adopt avoidance techniques.  Out psychological reactions to the problems caused by human influences on climate change seem to parallel our psychological handling of grief. We have reactions of anger, denial, selection of evidence, etc. Hopefully humanity as a who can reach the stages of acceptance and action before it is too late.

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70 responses to “Trust the experts – if they say what we want

  1. this is good thanx

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  2. I’m looking for this subject, you’re informed about it, thank you. I wish you continued success

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  3. Good to hear of your newfound respect for Bible scholars, thelogians, and philosophers of religion! 😀

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  4. Great post Ken.
    I couldn’t agree more. Until recently I avoided much of the atheist/theist debate, but after finally reading some of Dawkins work, I was shocked at the similarities between his discussions to that of climate change denial.
    I’m not sure however, that what we’re witnessing is probably akin to grief, but more a reflection of how much scientific reason is still in it’s infancy within the general public and how too much emphasis on the value of personal beliefs over solid evidence is an injustice to truly informed decision making.
    I agree with you, “Confirmation bias is a human trait that has to be overcome in science” as does the value automatically placed on baseless belief. Excellent examples of this would be the evangelical presence building in the US (it appears that more American’s think the US was founded as a Christian country than those who realise that it’s based on secular principles) and the anti-vaccination movement.

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  5. Great post. There is a good paper by Geoffrey Munro in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology about this. He calls it the “Scientific impotence excuse”.

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  6. I don’t trust anyone with a beard

    Works a treat for me.

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  7. Sounds like confirmation bias to me, Geeta!

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  8. This is my *hot button* topic, Ken. Thanks for the post and the links.

    I just wrote about some of the same stuff. On some levels even skeptics and critical thinkers dip into the irrational without ever realizing it. It wouldn’t be so bad if “Rome” were not already “on fire” .

    Addiction to Irrationality

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  9. Maybe we don’t trust the “experts” because we perceive them to be a bunch of crooks with their hands in the till?

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  10. Based on what, Geeta? I also like quotation marks.. so what then, constitutes an expert, thereby requiring the mocking use of quotation marks. Would you trust the advice of the Pope, regarding HIV protection (ie. condoms) or a medical expert who rightfully deserves the title after many years of study and applied science?

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  11. Maybe we don’t trust the “experts”….

    But people do.
    People trust ’em.
    According to the study, we do indeed trust the experts…just as long as the re-inforce our presuppositions.
    That’s the catch.
    That’s all people need.
    Here’s another example…

    Yeah well you can prove anything with science

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  12. So what sort of “experts” do the climate deniers field?

    Glad you asked…
    😉

    9. Climate Change – Meet the Scientists

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  13. Ah, Geeta, clearly your experts are people like madman Monckton.

    As I said most select their experts to fit their bias. In science we need to make a special effort to overcome this default position.

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  14. So how do we get out of the “expert said it so it must be true” ghetto?
    Here’s how…

    Evolution vs. Creationism:Experts vs. Scientists-Peer Review

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  15. “I am referring specifically to the IPCC and Pauchauri”
    Oh, okay.. what of many of the co-authors and the many references of the IPCC reports? Yeah, none of them know anything about any related field of science – certainly none are experts in their field.. Great point you have there Geeta, very well thought out.

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  16. Ah, Geeta, clearly your experts are people like madman Monckton.

    The fact that I never even mentioned Monckton, and he has nothing whatsoever to do with the article I referenced, merely confirms your own confirmation bias, Ken,

    Own goal, I believe they call that

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  17. Geeta, I said people like madman Monckton.

    Any way Geeta – would you rely on Monckton’s expert advice?

    And who do you use as experts for you information on climate change?

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  18. Great point you have there Geeta, very well thought out.

    But don’t you see, Tim?
    Don’t you SEE?

    If Pauchauri is corrupt then…it’s all a lie.
    Everything.
    No, really! Everything is a lie.

    The melting of the glaciers? Lie.
    Temperature records? Lie
    Satellites? Lie.
    Coral samples? Lie.
    Flora and Fauna migrations? Lie.
    Ocean acidification? Lie.

    Pauchauri did this.
    The cunning little Indian.

    He’s like Dr Evil. Controlling everything. Manipulating everything.
    All the scientific communties all over the world are blindly going along with him unless…unless…

    (…horrid gasp of realization…)

    NO! IT CAN’T BE!
    But….it must…..(?1?!!!?1)

    It’s not just Pauchauri. No. It’s all of them.
    o(
    All the scientists of the world. They are ALL corrupt. They are all part of the conspiracy.
    (Including NASA, of course)
    Covering all of the physical sciences.
    They all meet in a secret basement once a month to co-ordinate strategy and keep things “on message”.

    …would you rely on Monckton’s expert advice?
    No reason not to. Geeta and Monckton are in sync.

    Lord Monckton Rajendra Pachauri will be jailed.

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  19. So you are in agreement Pauchauri is corrupt?

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  20. Amazing, isn’t it Cedric?

    Pauchauri must have planted a brainbug in my ear whilst I slept so that my work would provide data that is fundamentally flawed, to help propagate the great climate change lie!

    Geeta has made me see the light! Amen!

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  21. So you are in agreement Pauchauri is corrupt?

    Wow.
    Feel the dumb.

    So you are in agreement Pauchauri is corrupt?

    Awesome. This kind of dumb doesn’t happen naturally.
    It’s not humanly possible.
    It must require special training.
    An Academy of Dumb or something.

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  22. To obtain such an nonsensical understanding, I would have to ignore what I know of scientific methodology, all evidence-based theories behind environmental science and ecology, the countless studies that I have read and the studies that I have been involved in as well as a great leap of faith to the assumption of hidden UN-communists out to take over the world, based on nothing more than a handful of quotes, mined and taken out of context.

    I’d prefer not to head down that insane little rabbit hole, if I may.

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  23. Pauchauri must have planted a brainbug in my ear whilst I slept so that my work would provide data that is fundamentally flawed, to help propagate the great climate change lie!

    Well, either that or he has funneled you millions in sekrit money!!!

    (That’s why you are now driving a Rolls Royce while your surgically-enhanced super-model “personal assistant” pours you French champagne all paid for at the taxpayer’s expence, of course.)
    😉

    I wonder how much all the scientists at NASA got?
    Must be a pretty penny.
    And that’s only one scientific community.
    😉

    2.No people who receive grants for doing climate science should be allowed to participate. Such people will just make up scary things so they can get even more grants. Only economically independent people should be allowed.
    (…)
    4.No Chinese or Indians, who just want to weaken the competiveness of the West. Tricky bastards!
    (…)
    5.No previous IPCC participant can participate in the new IPCC (in particular not Pachauri)! . As everybody who has any experience with management knows, if you want to change an organization the first thing you must do is to get rid of all members/employees.
    (…)
    20.In order to ensure its independence, the IPCC should not receive any funding from governments. Instead, it has find its own financing, for instance by selling advertisements in the assessment reports. The taxpayer money that is saved can be used for more important things, like eradicating malaria and giving tax cuts for productive citizens.”

    The Climate Scum

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  24. Clearly, you do not understand the subject of the blog.
    “Trust the experts”

    If the CEO of the company is fiddling the books, then why should I trust any of its products or employees, even if that is irrational?

    Clearly, the concept that “confirmation bias” could exist in climate science doesn’t even enter your pretty little heads.

    Clearly, any further discussion with your dogma infested brains is completely wasted.

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  25. “Clearly, you do not understand the subject of the blog.”
    Even Ken, who wrote the blog, is questioning you.

    “If the CEO of the company is fiddling the books…”
    If the CEO of this report was “fiddling with the books”, I’m sure you’d have a lot of working experts pissed off that he’s miss represented their life’s work. You don’t see this happened, therefore, it isn’t happening!

    “Clearly, any further discussion with your dogma infested brains is completely wasted.”
    This is always the pathetic reply, that I get constantly on my own blog, when lay people get annoyed that I just cannot see the conspiracy. I, of course, must be ideological because I cannot see your invisible enemies.. laughable..

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  26. Science has an ongoing problem with public understanding, confusion of authority vs marketing, and suspicion/fear of mad scientists and doomsday scenarios (thanks Hollywood!)

    Scientists themselves bear much of the blame, their human failings are very public, despite the desire of some to establish a priesthood of empiricism

    The message of science to society is simply beyond the capacity of most people – – lady gaga seems to have more impact 😦

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  27. The latest response from the “Hockey Team” to the MW2010 paper is simply laughable.
    They are attacking their own data quality standards!
    Any credibility from this quarter is now completely shot.

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  28. Ropata,
    I agree that Hollywood has a lot to answer for – not only for the doomsday sci-fi (which, when you look at it is far more biblically rooted anyway) but also for the image of the mad scientist.

    Apart from that however, the rest of your statement, I’m more or less half-half about. I agree more with Dawkins that ideology flourishes because we respect personal beliefs as much, if not more so, that evidence – this becomes very noticeable when they contradict, such as Geeta’s conspiracy and the scientific community or evolution and creation etc.

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  29. Geeta,
    Typcial – just side step and ignore previous arguments (Ken, is Geeta a regular denier here? I’m seeing all the hallmarks of irrationality here).

    “Any credibility from this quarter is now completely shot.”
    So, that “They [the “hockey team”] are attacking their own data quality standards”, all the evidence relating anthropogenic climate change is, what, false? You have got to be kidding. In my previous position, we were constantly undergoing self-reviews to make improvements on data control and analysis… so, does that destine our work to the rubbish bin? No, it strengthens our results, based on ever improving quality control.

    Besides, like the fossil record to the evolutionary argument, paleo-climate study is not required for our understanding of ACC, but complements it and assists in adaptive response, from a policy point of view.

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  30. Geeta’s conspiracy?

    It’s fraud, plain and simple!
    Can’t you read financial statements?

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  31. Geeta,
    “It’s fraud, plain and simple!”

    Selective bias is exactly what Ken’s piece is about and you demonstrate it perfectly by selectively ignoring the evidence. Let me repeat my earlier comment;
    “If the CEO of this report was “fiddling with the books”, I’m sure you’d have a lot of working experts pissed off that he’s miss represented their life’s work. You don’t see this happened, therefore, it isn’t happening!”

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  32. Why did I put that “ed” on happen? Please excuse this oversight

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  33. If the CEO of the company is fiddling the books…

    Piss-poor analogy.
    You are ignorant.
    A gormless tool talking out of your arse.
    You have no clue how the IPPC does their job or how it is run.

    The scientific communities of the world are not “a company”.
    There is no structure or hierarchy that is even vaguely like ” a company”.
    That includes the IPCC.

    Pauchauri isn’t a CEO.
    He doesn’t “control” the IPPC in the same way as, say, Bill Gates controls Mircosoft.
    He can’t.
    It’s physically impossible.

    …then why should I trust any of its products or employees…

    You are not getting this. There are no “products”. There are no “employees” as such (excluding people like secretaries etc) .

    Take NASA, for example.
    NASA is not an “employee” of the IPCC.
    Pauchauri doesn’t control NASA.
    He can’t.
    He has zero percent influence over them.
    If he takes their scientific research and tried to manipulate it…somehow(WTF???)… then NASA would be the first to loudly and publically bitch about it.
    Same goes for every single scientific community on the planet.
    Every single one.

    …then why should I trust any of its products or employees, even if that is irrational?

    (..awkward silence…)

    Um, well…because it’s bloody irrational?
    Because you don’t know anything about what you are talking about? Because you have trusted “experts” who have fed you conspiracy theories? Because you are a gullible sucker?

    Clearly, any further discussion with your dogma infested brains is completely wasted.

    Dogma? Why not go for gold and call science an “orthodoxy” too?
    No. That won’t do.
    You lose.
    Dogma is religious. Science operates differently from religion.
    Honest.
    The reason you are flouncing off in a huff and trying to use religious labels is because…you have nothing.
    Your belief in corrupted science and conspiracy is dishonest and shameful.
    You are just a run-of-the-mill denialist:

    That HIV is the primary cause of AIDS is the strongly held consensus opinion of the scientific community, based upon over two decades of robust research. Deniers must therefore reject this consensus, either by denigrating the notion of scientific authority in general, or by arguing that the mainstream HIV community is intellectually compromised. It is therefore not surprising that much of the newer denial literature reflects a basic distrust of authority and of the institutions of science and medicine. In her book, Christine Maggiore thanks her father Robert, “who taught me to question authority and stand up for what’s right” . Similarly, mathematical modeler Dr. Rebecca Culshaw, another HIV denier, states: “As someone who has been raised by parents who taught me from a young age never to believe anything just because ‘everyone else accepts it to be true,’ I can no longer just sit by and do nothing, thereby contributing to this craziness”.
    (…)
    Deniers argue that because scientists receive grant money, fame, and prestige as a result of their research, it is in their best interest to maintain the status quo. This type of thinking is convenient for deniers as it allows them to choose which authorities to believe and which ones to dismiss as part of a grand conspiracy. In addition to being selective, their logic is also internally inconsistent. For example, they dismiss studies that support the HIV hypothesis as being biased by “drug money,” while they accept uncritically the testimony of HIV deniers who have a heavy financial stake in their alternative treatment modalities.

    Portraying Science as Faith and Consensus as Dogma
    Since the ideas proposed by deniers do not meet rigorous scientific standards, they cannot hope to compete against the mainstream theories. They cannot raise the level of their beliefs up to the standards of mainstream science; therefore they attempt to lower the status of the denied science down to the level of religious faith, characterizing scientific consensus as scientific dogma. As one HIV denier quoted in Maggiore’s book remarked,

    “There is classical science, the way it’s supposed to work, and then there’s religion. I regained my sanity when I realized that AIDS science was a religious discourse. The one thing I will go to my grave not understanding is why everyone was so quick to accept everything the government said as truth. Especially the central myth: the cause of AIDS is known.”

    Others suggest that the entire spectrum of modern medicine is a religion.
    Deniers also paint themselves as skeptics working to break down a misguided and deeply rooted belief. They argue that when mainstream scientists speak out against the scientific “orthodoxy,” they are persecuted and dismissed. For example, HIV deniers make much of the demise of Peter Duesberg’s career, claiming that when he began speaking out against HIV as the cause of AIDS, he was “ignored and discredited” because of his dissidence . South African President Mbeki went even further, stating: “In an earlier period in human history, these [dissidents] would be heretics that would be burnt at the stake!”

    PLOS. Medicine: HIV Denial in the Internet Era

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  34. Richard Christie

    Here’s laughing at you Geeta.
    You guys are just hilarious, it almost makes my day when you turn up here like sheep entering the slaughterhouse, Cedric’s knives all shiny in anticipation.

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  35. Mothincarnate.

    Firstly, please do not call me a “denier”

    The article is about “trust”. am trying to explain, not that I am denying climate change, but that trust is built on trustworthy people.

    You cannot accept that there is any fault whatsoever in climate science.
    No one ever accepts any blame for anything.

    Anyone who disagrees with any aspect of your science whatsoever is labelled a denier.

    This is why no one trusts you.

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  36. Cedric,
    “Science operates differently from religion.”
    I’d go as far as to say that it operates oppositely to religion – ever improving, modernising and most importantly – improving the quality of life. These reasons alone are enough to make a stronger statement. Otherwise, excellent reply! 🙂

    Geeta,
    “Firstly, please do not call me a “denier””
    If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck…

    “No one ever accepts any blame for anything.”
    Because there is no real fault.. Sure, a few small errors, such as glacial loss prediction dates etc… but please, don’t build a mountain out of a mole hill.

    “Anyone who disagrees with any aspect of your science whatsoever is labelled a denier.”
    Well actually, no they’re not. One of the best aspects of science is the scientific debate – the data is, by itself, devoid of meaning – it’s just data. Scientific debate is all about working out the most appropriate interpretation of that data.
    What labels a denier for what it is starts with the absence of the first aspect of scientific debate – the lack of data. You make nonsensical assumptions and impossible conclusions, as I summed up about and Cedric covered in great detail (ie. Pauchauri could not have interfered with the conclusions). This is why I call you a denier, for no other reason.

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  37. Here’s laughing at you Geeta.
    You guys are just hilarious, it almost makes my day when you turn up here like sheep entering the slaughterhouse, Cedric’s knives all shiny in anticipation.

    Are you threatening me with violence?

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  38. Firstly, please do not call me a “denier”

    No.
    Deniers exist. They really do.
    Holocaust deniers exist.
    HIV deniers exist.
    Moon landing deniers exist.
    There are really and truly actual deniers out there.

    You may not be a denier…but you really, really, really sound like one.
    If the shoe fits, you wear it.

    … trust is built on trustworthy people.

    Not in science. Scientists don’t “trust” each other.
    Nobody gets to rest on their reputation. Ever.
    It’s all about the evidence.
    Everything else is worth diddly-squat.

    You cannot accept that there is any fault whatsoever in climate science.
    No one ever accepts any blame for anything.

    Climatology operates under the same scientific processes as any other field of science. There’s no short-cuts. No hanky-panky.
    That’s why suckers like you obsess over spurious allegations about money, emails and conspiracy theories.
    When it comes to actual scientific work, you have bugger all.

    If there’s a fault in the science of Climatology then…reveal it.
    Please.
    What exactly is this fault that brings the whole edifice of global conspiracy crashing down?
    Don’t remain silent.
    Quickly (before the black helicopters spirit you away) tell us what you have found!!!
    There’s not a moment to lose.
    Go for it.
    Don’t hold back.
    Give us the hard-core evidence.
    🙂

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  39. lol… Geeta lives in a funny and altogether unrealistic realm.
    Firstly, it was a metaphor for Cedric’s love of debate (was it not clear enough? Maybe not).

    Secondly, how could Richard threaten you with Cedric’s violence? WTF? Especially seeing as there is little doubt Cedric or Richard actually know who you are in real life…

    But I suppose straw men arguments are easier that actually debating – you could walk away now saying, “The dogmatically infested brains threatened me with violence because I challenged their beliefs..”

    Of course, this is nonsense, but I’ve heard it before.

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  40. …like sheep entering the slaughterhouse, Cedric’s knives all shiny in anticipation.
    Are you threatening me with violence?

    (…awkward silence…)

    Poe.
    I’m officially calling “Poe”.

    Nobody is that stupid.
    Nobody.

    Not only a failure in science, Geeta is also a failure in literature.
    So far, the denialist caricature remains intact.

    Similes and Metaphors

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  41. “… trust is built on trustworthy people.

    Not in science”

    Another own goal

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  42. If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck…

    Confirmation bias too?

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  43. Another own goal
    🙂

    I called it first, guys.
    Geeta’s mine.

    The Raven- Edgar Allen Poe

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  44. Geeta, you really do demonstrate the clear indications of a denier.

    “If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck…
    Confirmation bias too?”

    Please.. as previously stated;
    What labels a denier for what it is starts with the absence of the first aspect of scientific debate – the lack of data. You make nonsensical assumptions and impossible conclusions, as I summed up about and Cedric covered in great detail (ie. Pauchauri could not have interfered with the conclusions). This is why I call you a denier, for no other reason.

    You’re ability to selectively chose fragments, over the entire message being offered is a clear act of ideological methodology, as is you’re pathetic attempts to reverse other people’s statement on themselves rather than actually engage them in proper debate.

    You’ve failed continuously to reason why we should not call you a denier nor have you given a scientific basis as to why all science, as we know it, is wrong.

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  45. Cedric, you can continue this little debate with a closed mind if you wish.. I’m tired of trying to explain why we know the Earth to be round to a near-sighted individual.

    But, for Ken’s sake, it is note worthy to point out just how good an example Geeta has provide for his discussion. One can explain science methodology, the limited control Pauchauri had over the forth report, data quality control, all while trying to help the other understand that what they’re are doing is in truth evading the debate as much as they choose to avoid the evidence and still, at the end of it all, they continue, as always, to repeat the same ridiculous nonsense that they began with. Just like the bible – no new evidence-rich information can ever change what’s written on those self-contradicting pages.

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  46. What labels a denier for what it is starts with the absence of the first aspect of scientific debate – the lack of data.

    The blog article is about trust, not about scientific data

    People don’t trust climate scientists, for the reasons outlined above.

    Continued use of perjorative terms will not regain that trust

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  47. Richard Christie

    at the end of it all, they continue, as always, to repeat the same ridiculous nonsense that they began with.
    quoth the raven, nevermore

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  48. Procto-cranial syndrome

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  49. Richard Christie

    I can tell you don’t trust us Geeta.

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  50. Continued use of perjorative terms will not regain that trust

    Then later…

    Procto-cranial syndrome

    Ok, who is this really?
    Come on now.
    🙂
    I appreciate a parody as much as anybody but don’t push the envelope too far.
    The irony meter has exploded.
    Hmm…
    Richard, are you doing this?
    I wouldn’t put it past you.

    Is Geeta your little pink pinata filled with syrupy denialist “watch-me-shoot-my-own-foot” goodness that you have set up for cheap entertainment?
    Come clean now. I promise to forgive you if it’s you.

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  51. Richard Christie

    No, not me. Could have been Hank, remember Hank?

    Hmm, seems to have been spooked.
    So a turkey shoot is now off today’s agenda.
    Dang, I had my popcorn in and all.

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  52. Cedric, interesting snippet about Poe’s Eureka (1848):

    Poe’s work presages modern science with his own concept of the Big Bang. He postulated that the universe began from a single originating particle or singularity, willed by a “Divine Volition”.This “primordial particle”, initiated by God,divides into all the particles of the universe. These particles seek one another because of their originating unity (gravity) resulting in the end of the universe as a single particle. Poe also expresses a cosmological theory that anticipated black holes and the Big Crunch theory as well as the first plausible solution to Olbers’ paradox. Many of Poe’s conclusions, however, are speculative due to his rejection of analytic logic and emphasis on intuition and inspiration.

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  53. Hi Geeta,

    I’ve just been reading the posts on this topic. I’m wondering, since you brought it up, what exactly is it about the IPCC report’s findings and/or its compilation do you find unworthy of trust? You seem to be implying that Dr Pachauri is corrupt in some way. If so, how is it that his corruption negates the findings of the host of scientists from around the world all busily working away in their own fields of research, independently of the UNEP, WMO or IPCC?

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  54. @Richard Could have been Hank, remember Hank?
    Urg, how could I forget.
    (grimace)
    Then there was that “David Sh” fellow who lost his lolly at me.
    (fun times)
    Also Andy Scrace who decided it would be all cool and clever to create multiple sock-puppets to try and win an argument.

    For the lurkers: No really! There really is a guy out there called Andy Scrace and he really did create multiple sock-puppets. Yes, it sounds stupid but yes it did actually happen and “No” he never apologised for it.

    …interesting snippet…

    That was interesting.
    Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
    I’ve read most of Poe’s works but I confess I’ve never heard of his Eureka.

    @ropata.
    If you were busy taking chunks out of poor old Geeta over global warming and the rest of us were just cheering on from the sidelines,…what would you do if he claimed that “many respected scientists and philosophers” were on his side?
    Would that argument sway you to Geeta’s side or would you dismiss it?
    If you would dismiss it, then why would you dismiss it?
    On what grounds?

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  55. No, Geeta, the article is not about trust. It’s about confirmation bias. The selection of “experts” to fit on with one’s own prejudices. Alongside that, of course, goes defamation of those whose information you don’t agree with.

    You seem to be living example of that. With your silly defamatory comments on climate scientists and scientists in general.

    Of course your “experts” who you don’t name (bit of shame there) are not in the business of doing science – far from it. Consequently they don’t validate their claims against reality or subject them to the social scrutiny of the scientific community.

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  56. Cedric,
    I think Geeta is a female name?
    It is indeed the case that some academics disagree with IPCC findings but they are clearly a fringe element and easily contradicted.

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  57. I should’ve said as much, but I’m sure Ropata is correct – I used to work with a Geeta who was female.

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  58. Richard Christie

    I thought it was Hank sending from his geeta instead of from his banjo.
    🙂

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  59. It is indeed the case that some academics disagree with IPCC findings but they are clearly a fringe element and easily contradicted.

    Certainly, you can dismiss the argument by saying that it’s only a fringe element and easily contradicted but that’s not a good reason.
    It’s a badly flawed reason.
    You leave yourself open to legitimate criticism if you do that.

    You and I both have no time for climate deniers but if somebody plays the ““many respected scientists and philosophers” card then it must be dismissed for better reasons.

    I would dismiss such an argument from anybody no matter what their position was on any topic.
    Even if somebody said…”Global warming is real. Many scientists and philosophers etc.” I would reject it. It’s badly flawed.
    I’d agree with their conclusion but I wouldn’t accept the process of logic.

    I rejected the same argument from you in a different discussion but I don’t think you really understand why I did so.
    Probably, you think I was just being arbitrary and stubborn and a hate-filled atheist, but that’s not it.
    There’s a fundamental problem with the “many respected scientists and philosophers” gambit and it has nothing to with fringe elements or easy contradictions.
    Just thought I’d mention it.
    I don’t want to teach your grandmother to suck eggs but you should look into it yourself and figure out what’s wrong with it.
    (Just thought I’d mention it. No offence meant.)

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  60. I think Geeta is a female name?

    Arrg.
    I tried to keep my comments gender neutral but that solitary “he” slipped passed my guard. Darn.
    Yes, Geeta does sound feminine.
    The images of all the Geeta’s in general on google look VERY feminine but I suppose there’s a chance that it might work for a boy’s name too.
    (For all I know, Geeta could be the Hindi equivalent of Jamie in English or Sasha in Russian.)

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  61. I thought it was Hank sending from his geeta instead of from his banjo.

    Ooh, nice one.
    Very droll, Minister, very droll.

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  62. Richard Christie

    Even if somebody said…”Global warming is real. Many scientists and philosophers etc.” I would reject it. It’s badly flawed.

    Yet you do use a (reverse) variant of the argument yourself fairly regularly. The “all the world’s scientific bodies are in a seekrit conspiracy” line.

    It’s an argument of probability as much as it is simple appeal to authority – how probable is it that so many experts in a certain field are collectively deluded. The important criteria is how those in question arrived at their conclusions, if you are satisfied with the process they use then the authority of the majority argument has some merit.

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  63. The “all the world’s scientific bodies are in a seekrit conspiracy” line.

    I don’t subscribe to the individual opinions of “experts”.
    Not even large groups of experts who happen to agree with each other.

    I accept the conclusions arrived at by NASA and other scientific communities because of the work that they do and the scientific process that they follow.

    I don’t pretend to be a scientist or understand Climatology any more than I honestly understand Biology or Oceanography.

    Yet I value the system of peer-review, the independent status of scientific communities from each other and the inately iconoclastic nature of scientists everywhere.
    There is no feasible mechanism that I can see that could envelope the global scientific community in a fiendish conspiracy.
    Nor do I see any evidence that the scientific process has been short-changed uniformly across all the physical sciences.

    They could all be wrong.
    Yet the scientific process is how modern industrial society figures reality out.
    It’s earned my trust.
    You work with what you’ve got.
    Just because you don’t like what the numbers are telling you doesn’t entitle you to just “go with your gut”.

    This article probably explains it better than I can.

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  64. Plus there’s my favourite video on why I don’t care about the opinion of “experts” no matter how many there supposedly are or what credentials they have.
    Professor Padian happens to be taking down creationism in this video but his emphasis on valuing the science works for any other topic like HIV denialism or climate denialism or cold fusion etc.

    Evolution vs. Creationism:Experts vs. Scientists-Peer Review

    Like

  65. Nuts! Posted it before on this very thread.
    (sigh)
    Too early in the morning.
    😦

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  66. Richard Christie

    I accept the conclusions arrived at by NASA and other scientific communities because of the work that they do and the scientific process that they follow.

    Yes, that’s the nub.

    Ropata accepts the processes of theology so the opinion of a gaggle of eminent theologians must therefore carry weight, for him.
    Whereas, to you and I the sum of nothing is also nothing, we don’t accept the process.

    Citing a consensus, scientific or otherwise, isn’t an appeal to authority of the individuals, it’s really an appeal to (and demonstration of) the authority of the methodology collectively used.

    Like

  67. I’m a little disappointed that Geeta didn’t answer my question. I thought it was quite reasonable and straightforward…

    Like

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